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New England history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910
Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

Learn more:

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League Records, 1893-1977
9 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 331

When Charles Marsters founded the Boston Lacrosse Club in 1913, the club was the only one in New England to play teams from outside of the region. Under Marsters’s leadership, however, participation in the sport rose steadily at both the high school and collegiate level, helping establish New England as one of the centers of the American game. In 1935, he and Tom Dent founded the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League (NEILL) to continue to build the sport.

The NEILL records document the growth of lacrosse from informal club team play to a more regulated, interscholastic and intercollegiate varsity sport. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, minutes, and agendas kept by co-founder Charles Marsters and a handful of other NEILL officers, but with material documenting the growth of the sport at UMass Amherst from the 1950s onward and the addition of women’s lacrosse as a collegiate sport. The collection also includes some printed material (including rulebooks), news clippings, and photographs.

Subjects
  • College sports--New England
  • Lacrosse for women--United States
  • Lacrosse guide
  • Lacrosse--New England--History
  • School sports--New England
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
Contributors
  • Boyden, Frank L. (Frank Learoyd), 1879-1972
  • Marsters, Charles E
  • New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Regional Planning Commission Collection, 1935-1943
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 069

Organized in March 1934, the New England Regional Planning Commission was a coalition of state planning boards intended as a permanent, non-partisan, representative body. Charged with the continuous coordination, review, and revision of state plans, the Commission coordinated research and physical planning relating to transportation (including the highway system and airports), interstate water resources, land utilization, conservation of forests and wildlife, and recreational facilities.

This small collection consists of printed reports, bulletins, and minutes from the NERPC from its founding through middle of the Second World War. Ephemeral in nature, the reports chart the growth of regional cooperation in planning in the use of water and land resources and the transportation system, spurred by the federal New Deal.

Subjects
  • Airports--New England
  • New England--Economic conditions
  • Regional planning--New England
  • Roads--New England
  • Transportation--New England
  • Water-supply--New England
Contributors
  • New England Regional Planning Commission

New WORLD Theater

New WORLD Theater Records, 1979-2010
41 boxes (61.5 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 025/F2/N4
New WORLD Theater Records image
Photo by Edward Cohen, 2002

New WORLD Theater was founded at UMass Amherst in 1979 by Roberta Uno with the mission of presenting innovative works of theater by contemporary artists of color, with the goal of fostering creative communities, promoting cultural equity, and embracing diverse cultural backgrounds, social engagement, and a commitment to justice. For more than thirty years New WORLD Theater produced many dozens of plays and other dramatic works representing new voices in the theater, as well as plays from the traditional multicultural repertory, and they have supported the arts through performance residencies, conferences and colloquia, and a variety of initiatives aimed at the diverse communities they serve, youth, and theater professionals. New WORLD Theater has contributed significantly to national conversations on cultural equity. After more than three decades of acclaim and recognition, New WORLD Theater was closed by UMass Amherst in summer 2010.

The bulk of the New WORLD Theater collection consists of administrative records documenting the day-to-day activities of the theater, however, it also contains an extensive and exceptionally rich archive of taped interviews, conferences, and theatrical productions. Taken together, the audiovisual material traces the history of New WORLD through the words and performances of artists who both contributed to and benefited from the theater.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Drama
  • American drama--Minority authors
  • Asian Americans--Drama
  • Ethnic groups--United States--Drama
  • Hispanic Americans--Drama
  • Minorities--United States--Drama
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
Contributors
  • New WORLD Theater
  • Page, Priscilla
  • Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
  • Audiovisual materials
  • Sound recordings

Norfolk Prison Colony Collection

Norfolk Prison Colony Collection, 1932-1934
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 074
Norfolk Prison Colony Collection image
Howard B. Gill and daughter Joan, Mar. 1934

In the late 1920s, the sociologist and prisoner reformer Howard Belding Gill proposed building a “model community prison” at Norfolk, Mass., that would represent a radical new approach to dealing with crime and punishment. Integrating social work and sociological theory into the workings of the prison system, Gill reasoned that it would be possible to diagnose and treat the root problems that led to crime and redirect inmates toward constructive behaviors. Built by inmates themselves, the prison opened in 1932, but with opponents decrying the experiment as a “country club” that coddled prisoners, Gill was forced from the superintendency within just two years.

The collection consists of several drafts of a manuscript by a supporter of Gill’s, Thomas O’Connor, that was intended for publication in The Survey magazine, along with associated correspondence and photographs. Although The Survey’s editor, Arthur Kellogg, was sympathetic enough to pass through several drafts and seek opinions widely, the manuscript appears to have been rejected so as not to cause the governor undue political problems.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Norfolk
  • Prison reformers--Massachusetts
  • Prisons--Massachusetts--Norfolk
Contributors
  • Gill, Howard B. (Howard Belding)
  • Kellogg, Arthur
  • O'Connor, Thomas
  • Parsons, Herbert Collins, 1862-1941
  • Wilkins, Raymond S.
Types of material
  • Photographs

Northampton (Mass.) Area Mental Health Services

Northampton Area Mental Health Services Records, 1973-1983
4 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 027

In 1973 Hampshire Day House was established to provide day treatment to patients released from the Northampton State Hospital, which first opened as the Northampton Lunatic Asylum in 1858. As the Day House expanded its services it became known as the Northampton Area Mental Health Services (NAMHS). Valley Programs assumed responsibility for the operation of residential programs for deinstitutionalized individuals in Hampshire and Franklin counties in 1983, and seven years later the NAMHS and Valley Programs merged.

The collection consists of reports, financial records, board minutes, and correspondence for the Hampshire Day House.

Subjects
  • Community mental health services
  • Mental health facilities
Contributors
  • Northampton (Mass.) Area Mental Health Services

Northampton Cutlery Company

Northampton Cutlery Company Records, 1869-1987
113 boxes (55.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 058

The Northampton Cutlery Company was among the major firms in a region known for high quality cutlery manufacture. Incorporated in 1871 with Judge Samuel L. Hinckley, its largest stockholder, as its first President, the company was located along the Mill River in Northampton, Massachusetts, where operations continued until its closing in 1987.

Records document company operations and technology used in the cutlery manufacturing process, as well as details about employment of immigrant and working class families in the region. Includes administrative, legal, and financial records; correspondence; personnel and labor relations files; and production schedules and specifications.

Subjects
  • Cutlery trade--Massachusetts
  • Northampton (Mass.)--History
Contributors
  • Northampton Cutlery Company

Norton (Mass.) & Mansfield (Mass.)

General Store Daybook, 1828-1839
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 203

The unidentified owner of the store was a general provisioner operating near the towns of Norton and Mansfield, Massachusetts. This daybook indicates that he or she bought and sold food, cloth, fuel, wood, shoes, paper goods, glassware, and iron. While the Norton Manufacturing Company (a textile manufacturer) was a steady customer, the storekeeper also dealt extensively with individuals in Norton.

Subjects
  • General stores--Massachusetts
  • Mansfield (Mass.)--History
  • Norton (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Account books

Norwich (Conn.) Ironmonger

Norwich (Conn.) Ironmonger's Account book, 1844-1847
1 vol., 270p. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 540 bd

Straddling three rivers with easy access to Long Island Sound and the Atlantic, Norwich, Conn., was an important center during the mid-nineteenth century for the shipment of goods manufactured throughout eastern Connecticut.

Despite covering a limited period of time, primarily 1844 and 1845, the account book of an unidentified iron monger from Norwich (Conn.) provides insight into the activities of a highly active purveyor of domestic metal goods. The unidentified business carried a heavy trade in the sale or repair of iron goods, as well as items manufactured from tin, copper, and zinc, including stoves of several sorts (e.g., cooking, bricking, coal), ovens, pipes, kettles and coffee pots, ice cream freezers, lamps and lamp stands, reflectors, and more. The firm did business with individual clients as well as mercantile firms, corporations such as the Mill Furnace Co., organizations such as the Methodist Society, the city of Norwich and County of New London, and with local hotels.

Subjects
  • Hardware industry--Connecticut
  • Iron industry and trade--Connecticut
  • Norwich (Conn.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Stoves
Types of material
  • Account books

Olver, John

John Olver Papers, ca.1990-2012
57 boxes (85.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 748
John Olver Papers image
John Olver, April 2012

John Olver served as representive from the 1st Congressional District in Massachusetts for over two decades. Born in Honesdale, Pa., on Sept. 3, 1936, Olver began an academic career at UMass Amherst shortly after earning his doctorate in chemistry at MIT in 1961. In 1969, however, he resigned his position to pursue a career in politics. Winning election to the Massachusetts House in 1969 as a Democratic representative from Hampshire County, Olver went on to the state Senate in 1973, and finally to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991, where he followed 17-term Republican Congessman Silvio O. Conte. Olver was a progressive voice for a district stretching from the Berkshire Hills through northern Worcester and Middlesex Counties, enjoying consistently strong support from his constituents for his support for issues ranging from national health care to immigration reform, regional economic development, human rights, and opposition to the wars in Iraq. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he held seats on the Appropriations Committee and subcommittees on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Water Development, and Homeland Security. With the redistricting process in Massachusetts in 2011, Olver announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012.

The Olver papers contain thorough documentation of the congressman’s career in Washington, including records of his policy positions, committee work, communications with the public, and the initiatives he supported in transportation, economic development, the environment, energy policy, and human rights. Material in the collection was drawn from each of Olver’s three district offices (Holyoke, Pittsfield, and Fitchburg), as well his central office in Washington.

Subjects
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-
  • United States--Politics and government--1989-
  • United States--Politics and government--2001-2009
  • United States. Congress. House
Contributors
  • Olver, John
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